Deva Premal - Sings the Moola Mantra
German-born Deva Premal is a certified diva of the new age, having traversed the requisite Eastern spiritual paths, communing in Indian and following the late guru Bhaghwan Shree Rajneesh, also known as Osho. While her last CD, Dakshina, had a bit more of a pop-Enyaesque sensibility, Moola Mantra is a much more meditative affair as Premal sings a single, 15-word Sanskrit mantra over the course of six lushly smooth Indian fusion arrangements. The disc is something of a mantra super session, with kirtan crooner Jai Uttal playing dotar, Nepalese bansuri flute player Manose, pianist Kit Walker, sitarist Peter Van Gelder (who played with Grace Slick and the Great Society) and esraj player Benjy Wertheimer. They're among the ensemble providing the patchouli-scented ornamentations that surround Premal's serene voice. With producer Ben Leinbach's detailed arrangements and Premal's overdubbed vocal choirs, Moola Mantra recalls similar Hindu adaptations by Rasa more than any other Premal CD. Like Rasa's Hans Christian, Leinbach is a capable multi-instrumentalist with a gift for trance grooves that don't tire and evocative instrumental touches like the tremolo guitar bleeding into Uttal's dotar solo on "Part II." The music is a languid float down an endless stream, but the repetition of the mantra, even with inventive melodic variation, can get tiresome. Premal tries to have it both ways, mantra as art and as spiritual practice.